This Isn t the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You is Kindle I really wanted to give this stars because a good half or more of the stories are just terrific I al
This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You is Kindle I really wanted to give this 5 stars, because a good half or more of the stories are just terrific. I also see McGregor as one of the great up and coming English fiction writers (as opposed to British – there’s no end of brilliant Scottish, Irish and Welsh writers). Him and Ross Raisin. You feel with McGregor he is always pushing at boundaries in order to express himself with more accuracy, with more empathy. So he bends the usual practises of fiction in order to make us feel. It puts some people off – I felt Even the Dogs was a truly fine attempt at getting under the drug addicts’ skin, literally as well as metaphorically, but others felt its use of the first person plural and the unfinished sentences too tricksy. I felt it worked, in the end. Here, as well as many excellent straightforward narratives, including two that were runners-up in the BBC national Short Story competitions 2010 and 2011, McGregor pushes and squashes and mucks about with language and form like a kid with paint. A lot works – eg the second story ‘In Winter the Sky’ about a man who (I don't think this is a spoiler as it happens fairly early on) accidentally kills someone through careless driving on a lonely road at night and decides to bury him. There are quite a few stories about this, two I’ve read recently in Crimes in Southern Indiana and Volt, are both very good, tense pieces, but this one also looks at the long term effects of the burden of knowledge as well as the 'dealing with the body' bit. The protagonist is married to an aspiring poet and along with the story on one side, on the facing page are her attempts at poems with crossings out etc. I feel this adds depth, colour, complexity to the piece, but it could have gone so wrong. McGregor takes chances. He also makes you reader work quite hard – e.g. ‘Supplementary Notes To the Testimony of Appellants B & E’ is as it says notes to a document the reader doesn’t see so they have to fill in the story. Another uses a similar technique using a ‘found document’ (about a group preparing for an environmental catastrophe) with comments on it from some kind of authority. Like this latter many seem to be set in the near future before or after some disaster, war or rebellion, eg there's a modern day Noah building a treehouse and raft being laughed at by the locals, in another there are aircaft constantly bombing a beach.There are some experimental very short pieces too like the following complete ones:SongGrimsbyChinese restaurants, laundrettes, baked potato vans.These are a few of my favourite extractor-fans.Fleeing ComplexityIrby in the MarshThe fire spread quicker than the little bastard was expectingI like the latter, the first baffles. Every story is accompanied by a place name and all are set in the flat fenlands of Eastern England and surrounding areas, and do make significant use of landscape. But do I really need a 'story' (the last in the book) which simply lists place names grouped together by type:I don't think so. I'm wondering if I did that, sent some place names to an editor as a story how s/he might react. Of course in the context of the book it does have more significance, but even so...Similarly I thought this, the last page of a story called 'The Remains' was taking the piss:So that's why in the end I went for four stars. However just writing about the book has made me want to keep it and re-read (it's a library copy due back today) and the stories that are good are so good they may force me back to make this five stars.. A man builds a tree house by a river, in anticipation of the coming flood A sugar beet crashes through a young woman s windscreen A boy sets fire to a barn A pair of itinerant labourers sit by a lake, talking about shovels and sex, while fighter planes fly low overhead and prepare for war.These aren t the sort of things you imagine happening to someone like you But somA man builds a tree house by a river, in anticipation of the coming flood A sugar beet crashes through a young woman s windscreen A boy sets fire to a barn A pair of itinerant labourers sit by a lake, talking about shovels and sex, while fighter planes fly low overhead and prepare for war.These aren t the sort of things you imagine happening to someone like you But sometimes they do.Set in the flat and threatened fenland landscape, where the sky is dominant and the sea lurks just beyond the horizon, these delicate, dangerous, and sometimes deeply funny stories tell of things buried and unearthed, of familiar places made strange, and of lives where much is hidden, much is at risk, and tender moments are hard won.Watch Jon McGregor reading from This Isn t the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like YouJon McGregor discusses This Isn t the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You. Popular Book This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You These stories make up a true collection, one of place. Perhaps because much of it is set in the fens, at times I was reminded of Graham Swift's Waterland and that I want to reread that novel one day. Only two of the stories have recurring characters, but it's as if each story needs the other to achieve that unifying impression of place, and that alone was impressive. (The sum being much greater than its parts?)Some of the stories are brilliant, but none reached the high bar set by his novels. A few of the very short pieces worked for me; most didn't. A few of the stories have speculative elements. A few of the forms are inventive and with a couple of these I felt impatient, even a touch bored, but I was won over, partly, by their effective endings.The place-names under the title of each story and the Memorial Stone 'roll-call' at the end might've meant more to me if I knew more about these villages and parishes, and what must be their vanishing landscapes and ways of life.
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